Aura Lea

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This article is about the American Civil War song. For information about the hockey team, see Toronto Aura Lee.
"Aura Lee"
Music by George R. Poulton
Lyrics by W. W. Fosdick
Published 1861
Language English

"Aura Lee" (aka "Aura Lea") is an American Civil War song about a maiden. It was written by W. W. Fosdick (words) and George R. Poulton (music).

Aura Lea excerpt.png

Cover of Confederate version (1864)

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics as written by Fosdick:

When the blackbird in the Spring,
'On the willow tree,
Sat and rocked, I heard him sing,
Singing Aura Lea.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.
Chorus:
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid with golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.
In thy blush the rose was born,
Music, when you spake,
Through thine azure eye the morn,
Sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Birds of crimson wing,
Never song have sung to me,
As in that sweet spring.
(Chorus)
Aura Lea! the bird may flee,
The willow's golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully,
On the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
Gloom will soon depart;
For to me, sweet Aura Lea
Is sunshine through the heart.
(Chorus)
When the mistletoe was green,
Midst the winter's snows,
Sunshine in thy face was seen,
Kissing lips of rose.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Take my golden ring;
Love and light return with thee,
And swallows with the spring.
(Chorus)

Other occurrences of the song[edit]

"Aura Lee" was memorably sung by Frances Farmer and a male chorus in the 1936 film Come and Get It, based on Edna Ferber's novel.

Diana Muldaur sings the song to David Carradine in the episode "The Elixir" of Kung Fu

The Elvis Presley song "Love Me Tender" (lyric by Ken Darby) is a derivative adaptation of this song. A later Presley recording for the film The Trouble with Girls entitled "Violet (Flower of N.Y.U.)" also used the melody of "Aura Lea".

Jerry Lanning performed the song on an episode of "The Donna Reed Show" in 1962 entitled "Big Star".

The television cavalry comedy F Troop used a variation of the song to welcome saloon singer Laura Lee in the episode "She's Only a Build in a Girdled Cage" (cf. "She's only a bird in a gilded cage").

The television western The Young Riders used the song in its series finale, which took place in 1861 and showed how the American Civil War was affecting its characters' lives.

There is also a version of "Aura Lea" called "Army Blue" associated with the U.S. Military Academy. In "Army Blue," lyrics specific to the academy, written by George T. Olmstead, an 1865 graduate of the academy, are sung to the original melody. It is the running theme music in the background of the 1954 John Ford film The Long Gray Line.

Allan Sherman topicalized the song with this polio-based version:

Every time you take vaccine, take it Aura Lea (pun on "orally")
As you know the other way is more painfully!"

Parody[edit]

The 1983 film Trading Places includes Ivy League stockbrokers at their racquet club singing a sexualized parody of this song about their college days and their fraternity's conquest of various women on locations at campus, with the refrain changed to "Constance Frye."

The television show How I Met Your Mother 2009 episode (season 5 episode 22) "Robots Versus Wrestlers", features Ted Mosby at an upper-class party singing the Trading Places "Constance Fry" version along with film director Peter Bogdanovich and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz.

In Revenge of the Nerds, Betty Childs and the other girls from her sorority sing a parody (though not the exact tune) to the Tri-Lambs.